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Definition of Hoarding

written by: Kristina Dems • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 1/19/2011

Definition of hoarding in the context of OCD says any person who accumulates items that are seemingly not valuable and has a difficulty in discarding any of his belongings is considered suffering from this disorder. It is not easily noticed at first, but over time, the disorder will be apparent.

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    What is Hoarding?

    Hoarding The hoarding definition in a general context is the act of accumulating food or any other type of objects that is perceived to have value for most people. However, the definition of hoarding in the context of OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder, is quite different and more alarming.

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    Definition of Hoarding in the Context of OCD

    The act of hoarding where the items being collected do not seem to have value in the opinion of the general public can be considered a form of OCD. The general hoarding definition specifies that the items being hoarded are perceived to have value by most people. That is what sets it apart from hoarding in OCD, or compulsive hoarding. In compulsive hoarding, random items are collected seemingly for no reason at all. These items are not discarded even when a considerable amount of time has already passed. The term hoarding outside OCD is usually only used during special situations when food or items of value are scarce. The need to collect items in these situations comes from necessity. In the context of OCD, it comes from a mental disorder.

    This disorder occurs among men more than it does in women. Typically, people with compulsive hoarding disorder have abnormal grooming behaviors as well. Also, they show symptoms of OCD much earlier than those suffering from other types of OCD.

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    Causes of Compulsive Hoarding

    Hoarding may develop in a person with OCD due to their need to be orderly all the time, hence they keep all of their things with them, even those that already need to be discarded. In their mind, the items they have acquired may be needed at a later time, so its better to have them for a long time than to not have them when the time comes when they will need the items. It can also develop from the compulsion to acquire items in excessive amounts.

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    Effects of Compulsive Hoarding

    Compulsive hoarding may not seem harmful at first, but as time goes by, the accumulation of items can become a problem, especially if the person suffering from this disorder is living alone with no one to keep them in check. People suffering from this disorder may not even realize that they are hoarding. Their home can easily fill up with useless items. If food is being collected, it can become a serious threat to one's health due to the hazard of keeping a lot of food in a place where it could stay for a very long time, decaying if there is no proper storage. They may even lose space where they can properly move or sleep due to the amount of things that they have collected.

    This disorder can also affect the social life of the person suffering from it. Once they have hoarded enough items, their home may seem unruly and disorganized, causing them to be ashamed of it. Hence, they will keep their friends and family away from their homes. They may even become overprotective of their homes, especially when neighbors or friends start getting concerned or angry about the home being a health hazard.

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    References

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hoarding/DS00966

    http://www.brainphysics.com/hoarding.php

    Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com / Supplied by Mark Miller - http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/633759